“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”
Alumna Anna Litvinova (B.S. ‘20, Aerospace Engineering) has never shied away from spreading her wings to pursue her dreams. She advises current Broncos to do the same, no matter their discipline or field of study:
“Do not be afraid to dream big and then follow your dreams. Be curious, open-minded, hopeful, humble and sincere.”
A lifelong learner and multinational individual driven by endless curiosity, Anna is now soaring as a flight test engineer at Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation in Savannah, Georgia. Gulfstream designs, develops, manufactures, markets and services business jet aircraft.
“I chose to study aerospace engineering at WMU because I’ve had a passion for aviation since a young age,” she said. “Prior to moving to the United States from Germany, I often found myself at Frankfurt Airport, one of the largest and busiest airports in the world, watching planes take off and dreaming of a career in aviation.”
“Shortly after graduating in spring 2020, I was fortunate to begin my professional career as a flight test engineer at Gulfstream Aerospace,” she continued. “As part of the aero/performance flight test team, I work on the G500 and G600 post-certification programs, as well as on the newest G700, G800 and G400 business jets.”
While Anna’s parents and grandparents were all college graduates, she was the first in her family to earn a degree from a university in the U.S. Anna is fluent in Russian, German and English. Born in Russia, she moved to Germany with her mother when she was 9-years-old to complete grades five through 10. When her mother, Elena, received a job as an associate professor of physics at WMU, she moved to the U.S. to finish the last two years of high school and then enrolled at Western Michigan University for her bachelor’s degree.
Along with being inspired by the ongoing research and opportunities available to students at the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Anna also chose to study at Western because of the diversity of the people and programs. “WMU has something to offer for every student,” she told WMU Global Engagement when she was an undergraduate student. “Here you can find people with very different interests from your own and learn so much from each other.”
Anna built close friendships within WMU’s large international student community.
“I was very involved with the Haenicke Institute for Global Education while being an international leader for seven consecutive semesters,” she said. “I enjoyed being part of an international, diverse team and learning about the cultures of others. The people I met and the friendships I made are incredibly valuable to me; those connections shaped me into the person I am today.”
“The week-long international orientation before the fall semester was always my favorite,” Anna added. “I was also a big fan of the yearly Bronco Bash, where students stroll around campus with their newly made friends and discover all the organizations represented at WMU.”
During her time in Kalamazoo, Anna also assisted newly arriving families with resettlement and tutoring as a volunteer with the Refugee Outreach Collective. In addition, she became the first WMU student to intern with Parker Hannifin in their Mainz, Germany location.
“I’m grateful I was selected for a full-time, eight-month internship with Parker Hannifin’s aerospace division in Germany,” she said. “I believe all I’ve achieved is highly due to experiences like this, the people who I met along the way, and the endless support from my mother and the example she continues to set for me to this day.”
Anna received a small stipend for her study abroad internship at Parker Hannifin. She was also awarded the Diether Haenicke Scholarship, and for her senior design project, Aerodynamics of Wind Loading on Building, the Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship Excellence Award. She credits faculty and staff at the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and HIGE for fueling her growth.
“My professors at CEAS were truly passionate about their subject matter and did not hesitate to deep dive into questions or specific topics, and HIGE often felt like a second home,” she said. “I’m proud WMU prepared me so well to be ready and succeed in my job as a flight test engineer.”
Today at Gulfstream Aerospace, Anna plans testing, executes tests while flying on an aircraft, and analyses the gathered data to assure satisfactory characteristics and safety. Flying comprises about a quarter of her responsibilities. Outside of her “day job,” she’s working toward a master’s degree at the National Test Pilot School, is an active member of a local Society of Women Engineers chapter and is a board member of a local Society of Flight Test Engineers chapter.
She remains an advocate for refugees, children’s rights and access to education, too, as a member of UNICEF NextGen and Global Shapers (Atlanta hub). Born out of the World Economic Forum, the Global Shapers Community is a grassroots network of young people under the age of 30 working together to address local, regional and global challenges.
Last, but not least, Anna enjoys traveling, being active, photography and learning new skills.
About the Haenicke Institute for Global Education
Established in 1998, the Diether H. Haenicke Institute for Global Education creates and sustains an environment that facilities the global engagement of the WMU community. Western’s history of international involvement dates back to 1911 when the University granted its first degree to an international student. WMU’s first study abroad program was launched in 1945 and the establishment of exchange relationships with international institutions began in 1961.
WMU currently enrolls more than 1,800 international students (spring 2020) representing more than 100 countries. The top countries typically sending international students to WMU are Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, India, People’s Republic of China, Dominican Republic and Iraq.
Have an alumni success story you’d like to share? Submit it today at WMUAlumni.org/YourStory.